I didn't post earlier this morning because I had to drive to Bradenton, a city just north of Sarasota on Florida's west coast. You know, the coast that will be a future target of that massive oil spill. Which brings me to my purpose today...
Phrases that do not make sense or improperly describe something.
It is not a "massive oil spill." I am not exactly sure what it should be called, maybe "massive oil leak" (some do call it this). Or maybe "massive oil spew." Or just "The Big Gusher." It's basically an underwater gusher, something which was fairly common when drilling for oil on land.
What triggered my concern for proper phrasing was a song that was playing while I was driving. It's an old Andy Williams song "Can't get used to losing you" and the line that got to me was "called up a girl I used to know" and I couldn't enjoy the rest of the song.
Look, you either know someone or you don't. Even the use of the word "used" started to bother me. The right word is "once" but even that doesn't properly express the idea. Presumably, he called a girl he once dated. He still knows her. Or maybe the "know" was in the biblical sense. In which case, both "used" and the phrase actually works.
I first realized words don't always work together like we think they do when George Carlin brought it to my attention that we want to get in a plane, not on it. I was young, it impressed me.
So, now, I wonder about the word "used" when it is used to express the concept of acclimation to a situation. I can't get used to it. See what I mean? No wonder people have trouble learning the English language. Especially as spoken in the US. The coupling of some words don't make a lot of sense.
Of course, I also struggle with some Spanish. Consider the simple interrogatory, "Como esta usted?" (sorry, can't do the inverted question mark thingie) The question means "How are you?" Let's break it down....
"Como" means "as" or "like" or "by way of"
"esta" means "this"
"usted" means "you"
So the phrase directly translates to "By way of this you" or "As this you" or "Like this you."
A co-worker (who later became an annoying and petty supervisor) once offered this mangled Spanish pun:
"Como esta frijole?" for "How you bean?"
No Spanish speaking person I knew ever got the joke.
It's a wonder any of us can speak and actually communicate a concise thought.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago